I found meditation about nine years ago in a yoga class. I hated it…really hated it, but loved the exercise of the class. A few years later, the teacher quit, and the class ended. I found that what I missed most was meditation. Soon, I began my own 20 minute-a-day meditation time at home. It’s not easy, and sometimes my mind is a clattery mess, but for the most part, meditation is one of the best things I have learned to do for myself.
Now don’t misunderstand, I’m no Buddha-type or Gandhi-type (and if you begin to meditate even for a few minutes a day, you won’t be either)…it took Buddha and Gandhi years to become Buddha and Gandhi. Daily, I still get pissed-off and agitated with people and situations. What meditation does for me is give me a quieter mind. The practice helps me escape and sort out the brainwashing hypnosis our culture tries to keep us in. Even though I have a nine year meditation practice, I finished an online course, and am now a Certified Teacher of Meditation through OnlineWithAnanda (the group in California) and their sister group The Expanding Light…there is always something to learn and grow into…even if you only begin meditating for a few minutes a day!
Scientific Evidence for Meditation
Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org gives scientific evidence in his 3:18 minute video: Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging? and in his short printed article: How Many Minutes of Daily Meditation to Combat Stress?
How You Can Start
I know you’re busy and have crazy days, but there are simple ways to begin. If you’re on the go, don’t worry about how to sit. Very few actually sit like a magazine picture, and frankly it hurts my back! Your goals are:
- Quiet your mind even for a minute. A good goal to get to is a meditation time of 20-minutes-a-day.
- Focus at the point between your eyebrows, either close your eyes or take an active open-eye trance (still aware of what’s around you…like say the airport, the seat next to you, or the cafe line.) Yes, all these are great places to start.
- Calm your breath. You can do this by counting on the inhale, holding for the same count, and then exhaling to the same count. It can be any count that is comfortable. For example, silently count to 6 (or 5 or 4 or 10) as you inhale, hold the air for a count of 6, then exhale to a count of 6. Do this repetition three times. After this repetition begin normal relaxed breathing.
- Now just focus, no matter where you are standing or sitting, with calm breath and focused alertness to the third eye area. It may be only a minute, it may be three minutes. I promise it will help clam you.
- Another helpful tip is a mantra. It can be anything you are comfortable with. Say it on the inhale and repeat it on the exhale. A common one is Hong Sau (pronounced Hong -Saw). It means I Am Spirit. Quietly say Hong on the inhale and Sau on the exhale. I tend to use God is All on my inhale and God is Everything on my exhale. It doesn’t have to have any affiliation. You can say My Day is Wonderful or I Can Do This on both the inhale and the exhale. The purpose of a mantra is to take the metal chatter out of the mind and help the mind focus.
- Meditation is Active Alertness not blankness.
I highly recommend the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. You may have heard of this book when Steve Jobs passed away. It made quite a splash with the media. First published in 1946, Autobiography of a Yogi, is the book Steve Jobs read annually for forty years during his life, and is the ONLY book on his iPad. A copy was given to everyone that attended his memorial service. This book helped launch and continues to inspire a spiritual revolution in the West. Translated into 35 languages and millions of copies sold, this spiritual classic is considered to be one of the most important spiritual books of the 20th century.
The Book, Autobiography of a Yogi, is entertaining, humorous and filled with extraordinary personages and events that filled Yogananda’s life. He came to the U.S. in the early 1920s and built centers along the coast of California. He brought yoga to America, but not the hot, sweaty exercise yoga we know today. The word Yoga means Union.
I will give you an excerpt from the book, page 570, about Yogananda’s death…(He didn’t decay like the rest of us do–did–or will) This report was notarized by the Los Angeles Mortuary Director, Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Yogananda passed away in Los Angeles on March 7, 1952 (age 59), at the Biltmore Hotel after concluding a speech held in honor of the Ambassador of India….. ‘The absence of any visual signs of decay in the dead body of Paramahansa Yogananda offers the most extraordinary case in our experience. No physical disintegration was visible in his body even twenty days after death. No indication of mold was visible on his skin, and no visible desiccation (drying up) took place in the bodily tissues. This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one. At the time of receiving Yogananda’s body, the Mortuary personnel expected to observe, through the glass lid of the casket, the usual progressive signs of bodily decay. Our astonishment increased as day followed day without bringing any visible change in the body under observation. Yogananda’s body was apparently in a phenomenal state of immutability. No odor of decay emanated from his body at any time. The physical appearance of Yogananda on March 27th, just before the bronze cover of the casket was put into position was the same as it had been on March 7th. He looked on March 27th as fresh and as un-ravaged by decay as he had looked on the night of his death. On March 27th there was no reason to say that his body had suffered any visible physical disintegration at all. For those reasons we state again that the case of Paramahansa Yogananda is unique in our experience.”
My Home Meditation Space
A few close up photos of Kwan Yin and my meditation space.